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caption: Issaquah Creek floods on Feb. 6, 2020, near Gilman Boulevard. 
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Issaquah Creek floods on Feb. 6, 2020, near Gilman Boulevard.
Credit: Juan Pablo Chiquiza / KUOW

‘Historic flooding’ and landslides strike Western Washington

Rain across Western Washington is causing the region's rivers, creeks, and roadways to significantly flood, as well as landslides.

"Following non-stop rain, Issaquah and our neighbors are experiencing historic flooding," Issaquah Mayor Mary Lou Pauly said Thursday in a statement on Twitter. "Issaquah Creek level is now at phase 4 and maximum flood fighting efforts are in effect."

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Issaquah Creek near Hobart Road.
Credit: Courtesy Katie Cannon

The National Weather Service reports that two days worth of rain has caused flooding in urban and other areas in the lowlands. The rain is expected to continue through the weekend, further feeding waterways and adding to the risk of landslides.

“Floods are part of the landscape around here, and it has been a few years since we’ve had the flooding we’ve seen this year," Climatologist Nick Bond told KUOW. "People aren’t wrong, it’s really been coming down and it’s leading to some problems.”

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Heavy rain caused massive flooding across Western Washington, February 2020.
Credit: Courtesy of Katie Cannon and Stephen Gomes

“We have what’s considered a geologically young landscape, since the last ice age, and so there are a lot of slopes and bluffs along Puget Sound that are prone to landslides ... That’s been the case this month."

A total of 19 counties are now under an emergency proclamation issued by Governor Jay Inslee.

The Weather Service points to Issaquah Creek which has shown significant flooding, spilling over onto parts of Front Street and Newport Way.

The city of Issaquah has set up a station at its community center with free bags and sand for people to use. Eastside Fire spent the afternoon searching apartments for people who could not evacuate after flood waters overtook neighborhoods. The flooding also prompted classes to start two hours late in Issaquah.

Issaquah Creek flooded quickly, starting Wednesday morning. By Thursday morning, the creek was measuring 2,450 cubic feet per second. The last time the creek flooded at that level was in 2009.

Flood warnings were also issued Thursday morning for:

  • Snohomish River near Monroe
  • Pilchuck River near Snohomish
  • Puyallup River near Puyallup
  • Nisqually River
  • Carbon River near Fairfax
  • Cowlitz River near Randle
  • Issaquah Creek

Bond further tells KUOW that after the rain this week, the region is expected to be cold and dry.